No matter where you look across the state of Alabama, there is always something exciting and interesting going on in 4-H. From day camps to interest clubs, young people are engaged in hands-on learning matching their interests and helping to prepare them for their future. 4-H club members are involved in their communities, mastering new abilities and developing the skills such as teamwork and problem solving that will serve them well in youth and as adults.
|Clockwise from top left, the Black Creek 4-H Arrow Slingers represented Alabama and Alabama 4-H at the National 4-H Shooting Sports Invitational in Grand Island, Neb., in June. From left: Kacey Farmer of Sand Rock, Tanner Stimpson of Black Creek, Brett Bowen of Collinsville, Andrew Fricks of Geraldine, Noah Thrower of Black Creek, Michael Glenn of Black Creek, Casey Blackwell of Black Creek and Bethany Roberts of Cedar Bluff. Brett Bowen, a member of the Alabama 4-H State Champion Compound Archery Team, placed 11th in the 3-D event on day 3 and was the 15th overall individual in compound archery at the 4-H National Championship. Casey Blackwell, Etowah County’s Black Creek 4-H Arrow Slingers, competes in Hunting Skills at the National 4-H Shooting Sports Invitational. He was awarded 8th place in the General Hunting Skills event.|
Sometimes those new abilities take them to the national stage. For example, Etowah County is the home turf of some incredibly skilled and knowledgeable archers. The Black Creek 4-H Arrow Slingers were among 540 youth from 35 states who competed at the National 4-H Shooting Sports Invitational in Nebraska in June. The Arrow Slingers tested their skills in the disciplines of Compound Archery and Hunting Skills – and came away as the 10th-best team in the country.
The Alabama 4-H champion compound archery team – Brett Bowen, Tanner Stimpson, Noah Thrower and Kacey Farmer – walked away with a 7th place finish at Nationals. After three days of archery events, Bowen and Stimpson finished 15th and 19th in overall individual competition.
|Left to right, you never know who will show up at the New Brockton Elementary 4-H Drama Club. When the group celebrated “Follies of the Past,” they were honored to have Louis Armstrong take the stage. Below, what theatrical production is complete without sharks, pirates, lobsters and maybe a surfer dude? 4-H theater arts programs help young people develop such important life skills as self-confidence and problem solving.|
The Hunting Skills team – Casey Blackwell, Andrew Fricks, Michael Glenn and Bethany Roberts – took 8th place honors at the invitational. This event tested the group in an array of skills and knowledge including 3-D archery, small bore rifle and sporting clays. In addition, their knowledge of wildlife, game management, hunter decision making and general hunting skills were all put to the test. Casey Blackwell chocked up an 8th place individual finish for his abilities in general hunting skills.
Regional 4-H Agent Michael Dillon was notably proud of the group: "The state of Alabama and the Alabama 4-H Program could not have been represented by a finer group of young men and women. Amidst all the adversity, they displayed the utmost level of good sportsmanship and character on and off the field of competition."
|Terri June Granger and Noah Lee were selected as Houston County’s outstanding 4-H participants. Here they are pictured with 4-H Agent Sheila M. Andreasen. Both young people are involved in a range of 4-H and community activities.|
If some 4-H experiences are played out by Alabama young people on the "national stage," other events take place on a smaller, localized stage – but have the same impact of Belonging, Independence, Generosity and Mastery. That is certainly true with the 4-H Drama Club at New Brockton Elementary School. This Coffee County group exemplifies the old adage, "If it isn’t fun, it isn’t 4-H."
Five years ago, Alabama Cooperative Extension Agent Assistant Peggy Stroud saw a need for more performing arts in her local schools and community. Based on university research and personal experience, Stroud saw the benefits of the arts in building creativity, intellectual growth and self-confidence.
Working with Mrs. Chris Sutley, director of the after-school program at New Brockton Elementary, and supported by the Twenty-First Century Grant Program, the duo created a 4-H Drama Club. Sutley chose twenty 4th-6th graders to participate. Stroud, with help from volunteers (including a 75-year-old former professional actor and dancer), began to work with the students. For two 8-week periods each year, the young people learn self-confidence, self-expression, communication, responsibility and life skills.
The group has performed several productions and participated in local parades. They have taken their shows beyond New Brockton Elementary to members of the Coffee County Retired Teachers Association, the Coffee County Board of Education and Senior Adult groups. The popular "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" was the group’s latest artistic triumph.
"The children have done excellent performances," Stroud said. "It has been a very successful and rewarding endeavor. Students enjoy the learning experience, and Sutley, the New Brockton Elementary School Principal, teachers and their parents are delighted with the program and are very supportive."
Meanwhile, in Dothan, individual young people are being cited for their dedication and achievement in the Houston County 4-H program. Terri June Granger, a high school freshman and a member of Pathway 4H Club and the Houston County Horse Club, and Noah Lee, a freshman member of Pathway 4H, Cluck A Lot 4-H Poultry Club and the 4-H Horse Club, have been recognized by the Dothan Rotary Club as the county’s two Outstanding 4-H Club Members for 2012-2013. Both of these young people are involved in a wide array of 4-H opportunities, making their club, their community and their world a better place.
Chuck Hill is a 4-H Youth Development Specialist.